appeal, in law, hearing by a superior court to consider correcting or reversing the judgment of an inferior court, because of errors allegedly committed by the inferior court. The party appealing the decision is known as the appellant, the party who has won the case in the lower court as the appellee. The term is also sometimes used to describe the review by a court of the action of a government board or administrative officer. Appellate procedure is set by statute. There are two types of errors, of fact and of law. An error of fact is drawing a false inference from evidence presented at the trial. An error of law is an erroneous determination of the legal rules governing procedure, evidence, or the matters at issue between the parties. Ordinarily, only errors of law may be reviewed in appeal. In an appeal from an action tried in equity, however, the appellate court passes on the entire record, both as to facts and law. Should the appeals court conclude that no error was committed, it will affirm the decision of the lower court. If it finds that there was error, it may direct a retrial or grant a judgment or decree in favor of the party who lost in the lower court. The determinations of appeals courts are usually printed, often with an opinion indicating the basis for the court's decisions. Such opinions are of great utility in guiding the inferior courts and are often cited as precedents in future cases. See also habeas corpus.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.